U.K. data watchdog joins global privacy policy compliance audit

Summary:The U.K.'s data protection authority is joining a global audit of website privacy policies in order to build a better picture of how U.K.-based websites are complying with the law.

The U.K. Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) will from Monday examine 250 U.K.-based websites in order to determine the level of compliance with local and EU law on data protection and privacy.

Specifically, the ICO will be looking at website privacy policies for the week-long period to see the level of ease with which the average web user can read them, and whether they adequately explain how user data will be handled and processed.

The U.K. data protection authority is just one of 19 privacy watchdogs around the world carrying out a global project — the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN), which includes many EU regulators and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) — to help improve how privacy policies are written, and for companies to better explain to consumers how their personal data is being used.

"Too often, we find organisations using the notices to protect themselves, rather than inform the public, and there's no excuse for this," said ICO lead privacy officer Ian Williams in a blog post on Friday.

The ICO will, along with the other privacy authorities, combine its results with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada with a report published by the GPEN in the second half of the year.

The watchdog also warned that some websites will be identified if they require further action to comply with various national and international laws.

Topics: Security, Data Management, Government : UK


Zack Whittaker is a writer-editor for ZDNet, and sister sites CNET and CBS News. He is based in the New York newsroom. His PGP key is: EB6CEEA5.

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